Have you ever wondered, “How does God feel about me? Does God just tolerate me? Is God angry at me? Does God Love me?”
At times I’ve figured, “Of course He loves me. He has to. It’s like some sort of philosophically mandated ontological necessity. God is Love…. and so has to love me. ‘Sorry God.’”
John, the beloved disciple, would say, “NO! You don’t understand the kind of love we’re talking about.” In 1 John 3:1 he writes, “Behold what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we would be called the little children of God, and so we are.”
Nothing has taught me about the Love of God, quite like having little children of my own… not seminary, not books, not even Scripture. And it’s not to my credit. The Love just showed up along with these exhausting little needy creations. It’s a different kind of Love. It’s thoroughly unique, unearned and unconditional.
On my office wall, I keep an old picture hanging by the door. It’s a picture of my youngest son Coleman. He’s standing in the living room in nothing but a diaper and cowboy boots with his musical potty chair stuck on his head. He has a distressed look on his face, because I’m not helping him, but taking his picture. That’s because he’s the most delightful and beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
However, if you stood in my living room wearing nothing but a diaper and cowboy boots screaming because a musical potty chair was stuck on your head… I’d call the police. That’s because I’m not your “Daddy.” I am Coleman’s Daddy. Jesus addressed God as “Abba.” It means “Daddy.”
My son is seventeen now. I get mad at him for all sorts of things, but I can’t get mad at him the way I get mad at others… Sure, he’s dressed himself in all sorts of failures and successes, but underneath, I know who he is. He’s still that priceless treasure, just with some new potty chair stuck on his head. I keep the picture by my door to remind myself of who I am and how my Father in heaven sees me. What if God sees you that way? … your neighbor that way? …your worst enemy that way?
Well that’s the kind of love the Father has “given unto us.”
So, why does God tolerate me and my crap? And what is it that He wants?
Years ago my wife read a book called Potty Training in a Day. Because I had the same plumbing system as my firstborn, Jonathan, she figured that I should do the training … and she went shopping. Uhgg.
I hated poop, but loved my son. We had a nice time, a short time. And then Jon had an accident, a sizeable one. Well at that point, according to the book, it was my job to take him to the potty and make him sit on the toilet anyway—to see that crime doesn’t pay. He was obviously distressed as I led him to the throne room in his little white T-shirt and underwear. I stood him there, before the porcelain judgment seat, pulled his underwear down and turned to get some toilet paper. I turned back just in time to see the following: Jonathan looked left then right, then reached down into his underpants seizing the visible expression of his “sin nature.” He stood up and just hurled it at the toilet. It bounced off the lifted lid, like a basketball off a backboard, and plopped into the bowl. TWO POINTS! Jonathan turned and looked at me. His eyes lit up with joy, thrilled with the gift he had just given me. He then took his dirty hand and wiped it several times across his clean white T- shirt, smiling the whole time as if to say, “Daddy, aren’t you proud of me?”
I remember standing there, staring at my son, covered in the thing I hate most and smiling… “I did it for you, Daddy. Aren’t you proud of me, Daddy?”
And I WAS! That was my judgment.
I got just what I wanted: my son’s heart …my son standing there in filth and faith. I would gladly bear the filth to destruction in the laundry room and I would treasure that faith as the most priceless of gifts—my own love returning to me, through my son, as faith; faith in who I am; Jon’s Daddy.
Daddy love is unique, unearned, unconditional, relentless, sacrificial, and it seeks the heart; it desires faith. And by that grace, working through faith, it is profoundly creative. If you have faith in your Father’s Love, you will be shaped in His image from the inside out, unaware that it’s even happening.
So how does God “feel” about you? It’s interesting that Scripture doesn’t really have one word that always gets translated as “feeling” or “emotion.” Scripture doesn’t divide up the human heart in the same way we modern people do. Perhaps the closest Greek word would be pascho or pathos; words that get translated suffering or passion. And that makes some sense. You “suffer” an emotion. An emotion is something that affects you. Is God “affected” by you?
I’ll tell you what: no one can “affect” me like my kids. I’m a big guy, but they can strip me bare and nail my heart to a tree. It’s John that writes, “Jesus… from the bosom of The Father, He has made Him known.” Jesus is the heart of God nailed to a tree for the love of you, not because He has to be, but because He wants to be. The Passion of the Christ is the passion of God for you. It’s there that the Father bears his own sorrow over the way we wound each other. It’s there that the Father takes our suffering upon himself. It’s there that the Father exhibits the depths of His passion for each one of us. It’s there that He issues his Judgment of Love. And it’s there that He delivers up His Spirit, His Word, the Spirit of Jesus that descends into our hearts and returns to Him crying ‘Abba Father.’” Romans 8:15-16: “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself, bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” When we cry “Abba,” it’s Faith; Faith, that creates us in His image.
Of course you feel ridiculous. Of course you’re covered in filth, but behold the kind of Love He has for you. Have Faith, and you will be made in His image.
How does God feel about you? Look to Christ Jesus, His Heart. He gives everything for you; literally “feels” everything for you; He’s utterly captivated and affected by you. It wasn’t Roman nails or even the Devil that held Him to the wood. It was you—His love for you. That’s how He “feels” about you. Say, “Abba.”